I first heard of musicians doing "clinics" when I was in high school. My dad read in the St. Louis paper that an amazing drummer, Dave Weckl, was doing a doing a drum clinic for Drum Headquarters Drum Shop. I was curious, so my dad took me down to St. Louis, a 2 hr trip from Hannibal, Mo, to check out Weckl's clinic.
It was hosted in a high school auditorium, which was pretty full. There were a lot of guys wearing their Zildjian shirts and hats, I was one of them, and there was an expectancy in the air. Something big was going to happen.
Dave put on a fantastic show, his kit was hooked up to the latest in drum processors and he played with some pre-recorded tracks that showed his orchestration and groove skills. The audience was truly blown away, I know I was. After Dave played a couple tracks he spoke in depth about his approach to the drums; his concept of snare drum technique, his kit, orchestrating musically, tuning, and the New York music scene. Weckl spoke at length about New York and that there was room for everybody and that if a musician was very serious, they should think about going to New York. That was maybe the first time I thought seriously about it.
Over the years I went to a few more clinics and they all had their own vibe. Ed Soph was very matter of fact and no-nonsense. Gregg Bissonette was high energy and entertaining, while also very grounded and conversational. Louis Bellson. Dennis Chambers. Simon Phillips. Tony Williams. Kenwood Dennard. Victor Lewis. Every clinic I ever went to I can remember something interesting about each one of them, I came away with something to think about.
I also dug the clinics by pianists and horn players: Bob Brookmeyer, Clark Terry, Lew Soloff, Clare Fischer, Gerald Wilson, Phil Woods, Kenny Werner. They all came to UMKC where I was studying and spent some time with us. All amazing musicians with a lot to share. Just being in the same room with them, listening to their ideas, elevated those who came to listen.
So, now I'm doing my own clinics, sponsored by Canopus Drum Company. In 2015 we had a great day at Explorer's Percussion with Wes Falcouner and his wonderful family. Wes and Lorainne have been friends since the 80s. They have one of the absolute best and most successful drum shops in the world.
In my clinics, I like to tell stories. Musically and otherwise. Melodically or rhythmically and of course, both. I talk little about mechanics and more about the "Why" behind our playing. I talk about health and fitness, jumping rope to tune your body's rhythm.. Audience members ask questions, I try to answer them by relating my own experiences.
I will be returning to Explorers to perform an clinic and will have special guest, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, an amazing musician/composer/artist. We'll cover topics that relate to not only the drums, but to percussive instruments and how the drums and vibes work together without getting in each other's way.
Well, that's my post on clinics. Hope you enjoyed it and if you live in KC come check out the clinic at Explorer's Percussion, October 24th, 2018!!